New Delhi: On Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, India is all set to be declared open defecation free by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi, who soon after coming to power for the first time in 2014 announced the Swachh Bharat Mission, cited how Mahatma Gandhi had laid immense stress on cleanliness and wanted the countrymen to pursue it.
A vision was soon turned into a mission. Exactly, five year ago, on this day, Swachh Bharat Mission-Gramin (SBM-G) was launched with the intent to make India open defecation free. Five years down the line, what was once a dream has finally been realised.
Providing access to toilet facilities to all rural households in the country was at the crux of this mission. Sanitation coverage in the rural areas of the country, which was 38.7 per cent on October 2, 2014, increased to more than 98 per cent, the government said.
It added, 27 states, 601 districts, 5,934 blocks, 2,46,116 gram panchayats and 5,50,151 villages have been declared Open defecation free, much before the formal announcement on October 2.
Before declaring the nation open defecation free, it started with states being declared so. The states went into a race as many saw it as prestige battle, Modi had said.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Daman and Diu, Gujarat, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Pudducherry, Punjab, Rajasthan, Sikkim, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand – all stands free of the open defecation menace.
The targets set for the mission, which were to be achieved by October 2 this year, include construction of 66.42 lakh individual household toilets, 2.52 lakh community toilet seats, construction of 2.56 lakh public toilet seats, and achieving 100 per cent door-to-door collection and scientific management of municipal solid waste.
By February this year, India constructed 9.16 crore toilets.
As PM Modi is all set to announce, India open defecation free on Wednesday, a dream of Mahatma Gandhi, it already has eyes set on its second leg through smart management of waste and recycling.
But October 2, 2019 will forever be etched in the country’s history as a red-letter day.